A look inside one of Perseverance’s main holes

This is one of the best views you’ll ever see from inside a rock on Mars. The hole was dug by the rover’s drill Perseverance, a rotary percussion drill designed to extract rock cores from the surface of Mars. Once the sample was taken, the Perseverance rover acquired this image using its SHERLOC WATSON camera to take a close-up view of the hole.

It’s such a clear image because image editing expert Kevin Gill used a technique called focus blending to get the best view possible. A “focus blend” uses a series of images taken at different focuses, stacks them, and uses the sharpest pixels. You can see a larger version on Kevin’s Flickr page.

“Photoshop calls it ‘Auto-Blend’,” Gill said on Twitter. “I’m not sure about Percy, but MSL [Curiosity rover] does this on board the rover. I wrote my own algorithm and used it here.

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Mars Perseverance Sol 490 – Right Mastcam-Z Camera: The Swift Run core inside the core drill bit. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU.

The drill and camera are located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm. The core sample of the rock is about the size of a tiny little finger. It’s the 10e core sample collected by Perseverance and the first sample from the rover’s current location, the Jezero Delta. This region is particularly interesting because it appears to be an ancient river delta, which may provide evidence of past life on Mars.

Since arriving in the delta, the rover has observed and tested various different rocks to see if they are good candidates for core samples in this area. The rover team said the first rocks considered to fracture too easily or have surfaces too rough to place the drill safely. They were specifically looking for a scientifically interesting rock, with manageable surface topography, large enough to hold an abrasion and two cores, and which should be resistant to drilling.

Mars Perseverance Sol 490 – Left Navigation Camera: The abraded piece and core drilling on Skinner Ridge rock. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The best candidate was this rock, which the team named Skinner Ridge. The first abrasion tests revealed the inner surface of the rock without fracturing the surroundings. The rover’s full suite of instruments was used to investigate and document the abraded patch, and then it was time to dig.

NASA/JPL sampling engineer Iona Brockie wrote on the Perseverance rover blog that her collection went very well. “At 6.70cm long, this is our longest mission core so far,” Brockie wrote. “Perhaps even more exciting was to see that those same clasts visible in the abraded patch were also visible in the core.”

This core sample is interesting enough that it could get a one-way trip to Earth in the future, with the proposed Mars sample return mission, which will return selected core samples that the rover has collected back to Earth. .

According to the rover team’s naming protocols, the Perseverance mission names areas after different national parks on Earth. Rocks, abrasions, and cores are given names related to the current area. The rover is currently in the Shenandoah Quadrilateral, named after the US national park in Virginia. Skinner Ridge is a feature of Shenandoah.

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